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Why don’t tourists flock Chandigarh?

As the city gears up for Tourism Week from September 27, a tour of the city reveals that nothing seems to be working when it comes to tourist facilities and infrastructure.

punjab Updated: Sep 26, 2018 12:02 IST
Hillary Victor
Hillary Victor
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Chandigarh,Le Corbusier,Tourism Week
The Chandigarh Tourism’s Tourist Information Centre in Sector 17 shows the district courts in Sector 17 (encircled), whereas they were shifted to Sector 43 four years ago.(HT Photo)

Its Capitol Complex designed by famed architect-planner Le Corbusier has been declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, but Chandigarh has done nothing to cash in on the honour. As a matter of fact, as the city gears up for Tourism Week from September 27, a tour of the city reveals that nothing seems to be working when it comes to tourist facilities and infrastructure.

Information not updated, centres closed

Two of the Union Territory (UT) tourism department’s four information centres at the Sector 17 Plaza, Railway Station, Capitol Complex (Sector 1) and Sukhna Lake need attention. The city guide map at the Sector 17 centre shows the Chandigarh district courts complex in Sector 17 even though it has moved to Sector 43.

Though gardens are a big part of Chandigarh, there’s no information in the map on the new ones such as the Japanese Garden in Sector 31, the Garden of Palms in Sector 42 and Garden of Springs in Sector 53

Tourists also say that the information centres are often found locked during the day even though they officially close at 5 pm.

Jitender Yadav, director tourism, UT, told Hindustan Times that he would check the tourist information centres and “seek a report.”

Tourism signage missing

No efforts have been made by the tourism department or the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Limited (CITCO) to replace the signage put up eight years ago and most have gone missing. No signage promoting the city’s heritage tag or for that matter important tourist spots can be found in the city.

Rough ride for hop on-hop off tourist coach

The double-decker hop on-hop off bus started for tourists in 2001 is also not attracting crowds.

Tourism department officials say reveal that just 40 of its seats are filled every day. Timetables for the bus are also missing from prominent spots in Chandigarh.

Tourism website not updated

The official website of the tourism department (chandigarhtourism.gov.in) has not been updated in four years with crucial information missing. Three years after the directorate of tourism moved to Sector 19 the website shows its location in the additional deluxe building in Sector 9.

The designation of the home secretary Anurag Aggarwal, repatriated three months back to Haryana, remains secretary tourism, Chandigarh.

The address of the Bollywood facilitation centre still remains the state guest house in Sector 6 even though it currently operates out of Sector 19.

Yadav said the Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC) had been asked to make a new website and “40% of the work is complete with the site expected to be ready within a month.”

Tourism literature not published

The department has also not published tourist literature such as guide maps, new brochures on places of tourist spots for the past three years.

City-based tourist guide Narinder Singh International said it was “sad that the tourist information at Sector 17 ISBT had been closed for the past several months.”

His request to the authorities concerned to print tourist information brochures in French, Spanish, German and Italian had also been ignored. “Also, the Chandigarh administration has not done much for budget travellers who are actually more interested in the city and stay for long,” he said.

Listing the points the tourism department needs to pay heed to, International said “The tourist rest house at the Sector 17 ISBT has already been turned into a dumping godown. Also, foreign tourists complain of lack of basic amenities at the Capitol Complex such as availability of drinking water and eateries.”

Arvinder Pal Singh, president of the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Chandigarh said the tourism department used to earlier involve private hoteliers to become a part of World Tourism Week, but now it was restricted only to Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Limited (Citco) hotels.

Why action is required now

According to the tourism department, the number of tourists in the city is increasing. In 2016, out of 12.14 lakh tourists, 31,549 were foreigners who visited the Capitol Complex.

In 2017, out of 14.58 lakh tourists, 32,762 were foreigners, most of them from France, Spain, Germany and Italy.

First Published: Sep 26, 2018 12:02 IST